Weather may delay Boscombe surf reef improvement work

The artificial surf reef off Boscombe, Dorset
Image caption The council has been withholding payment to ASR Ltd until improvements have been made

Improvements on the artificial surf reef off Dorset are unlikely to be completed this year.

The £3.2m underwater reef at Boscombe has been closed since March after two sandbags were damaged by a boat.

ASR Ltd, the firm which built the reef, returned in August to carry out repairs and improvements.

Bournemouth council said it was discussing with the firm what work could be undertaken before the weather deteriorates further.

The council has not confirmed whether it has paid New Zealand-based ASR Ltd any of the £150,000 it was withholding until the work was completed.

Tony Williams, executive director for environment and economic services at the council, said: "Given that autumn is firmly upon us, we are now back in discussions with ASR on what work can realistically be undertaken before the weather deteriorates further.

"We have to accept that only repair work can now take place this side of winter and our priority is ensuring the reef is as structurally sound as possible and is in the best position to withstand winter weather."

Over budget

The reef was created to enhance waves using 55 giant sand-filled bags, which are 740ft (225m) out at sea.

The reef opened in November 2009 after lengthy delays and running over budget, as part of the regeneration of Boscombe seafront.

It has been criticised for not working properly and a specialist report found the reef had not achieved all of its objectives.

The council had been due to pay £55,000 when refinement work was finished and a further £95,000 if the improvements were successful, and has been withholding that money.

ASR Ltd has denied the reef failed and said it was only one of the criteria, the wave lengths, where it had not met the requirements.

Many traders have argued the reef has added to the regeneration of the once-rundown area.

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